Mining Publication: Gel Sealants for the Mitigation of Spontaneous Heatings in Coal Mines
Coal mines that undergo self-heatings, and specifically mines that sustain both floor heave and self-heatings, would benefit from the use of sealants to minimize air ingress to susceptible areas. The U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) evaluated three sealant systems for this purpose, bentonite-water mixtures, silicate gel, and guar gum gel. The guar gum-based gel was the only sealant that possessed the desired properties of elasticity, ease of preparation, adaptability to the mine, and a long life. In addition, since the gel consists mostly of water, it could quench or cool nearby heatings. Optimal formulations were determined in laboratory tests, and then tested in the USBM Safety Research Coal Mine. Two formulations resulted in stable gels that lasted for at least 12 months in the mine. Semicontinuous preparation of gel using an eductor was evaluated and appears feasible. Although guar gum gel is expensive, selective use to prevent heatings in specific areas would be cost-effective, both in terms of productivity and enhanced mine safety.